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A coffee table does more than hold your drinks or serve as a makeshift dining room table. It should also spark conversations and invite visitors to your home to learn more about you. A well-ornamented coffee table can tell the story of who you are and what inspires you. No matter which decorating style or color scheme you prefer, adding new items to your coffee table will instantly spark visual interest in the room.
Coffee Table Decor Ideas
Organizing consultant Marie Kondo famously remarked, “The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.”
Likewise, your coffee table should reflect your life and display only the things you love. Make sure your decorative pieces aren’t just a collection of random knick-knacks. Instead, be intentional about how your coffee table looks—what you display should reflect who you are. If you opt for a charming collection of family photos, let them show a timeline of your experiences. Or, make a custom floral arrangement that suits your personality.
Of course, functionality has to play a role in your choices—you want to leave space for your guests to set coasters and cups of coffee. But you don’t have to go minimalist to achieve high-end coffee table styling. Maximalist influences are big now, too.
But before you start brainstorming, it might be time for an update if you don’t have much space in your family room for a coffee table. Clear away clutter, invest in a new table that fits your living room layout and use your old table as storage in the garage.
To decorate your coffee table like a pro, take inspiration from these decorating tips.
Employ the Rule of Threes
In decorating, the rule of threes says there should be three colors in a room, three fabrics in a display, and three accents in a vignette. While you don’t have to take the rule of threes literally, people tend to think in triads. So a display of three items appears complete in the viewer’s eyes.
Consider color, scale, and height in a coffee table vignette as you choose the pieces for your grouping. For example, you can make a small object appear bigger by placing a coffee table book underneath it.
Curate Your Family’s Heritage
The heirloom-filled coffee table shows off priceless family memorabilia collected over the years. Full of handmade treasures, this coffee table idea is fit for any interior design lover who appreciates heirlooms, family treasures, and old stories.
Think beyond typical photos in frames. You can display your ancestors’ tintypes, keys, medals, coins, stamps, arrowheads, or lacework in a shadowbox. Use your grandmother’s best lace tablecloth to cover your flat surface area, or add a late relative’s baby shoes, tools, jewelry, or personal effects to the table. These statement pieces can stimulate fascinating conversations with friends.
Find Inspiration from Nature
Get inspired by the outdoors to decorate your coffee table. In the fall, you could display a wicker basket or a wooden tray filled with nuts or pine cones. If you enjoy visiting the coast, arrange starfish or sand dollars on the coffee table. You could even opt for a stack of books about insects, plants, or wildlife. Top your books with a magnifying glass or a leaf press for extra flair.
If you want to go the traditional route, experiment with natural elements such as wooden coasters or sets of napkins wrapped in felt or cork. You could display your favorite accent pieces in a wooden tray, especially one crafted from distressed wood.
The always-versatile mason jar can transform everyday items into eye-catching arrangements. Choose a clear glass jar or pick rustic blue or farmhouse yellow. Add a loosely arranged collection of wildflowers, and you’ve brought the outdoors indoors in a dramatic way. You can also fill the jars with candy, candles, rocks, seasonal ornaments, seashells, or coffee beans.
Choose Geometric Patterns
Beauty comes in all shapes, patterns, and sizes. The great thing about geometric patterns is that they are easy and look stylish. Whether you choose a smaller pattern, such as one found in a rug, or a larger, bolder one, such as a zigzagged paper tablecloth, you can’t go wrong.
If your living room furniture already features bold geometric patterns, try adding a plain, solid vase in an accent color that makes your furniture pattern pop. On the other hand, rooms with both a plain table and non-patterned furniture might benefit from a geometric rug under the table.
If you have a round coffee table, consider using its circular design to your benefit. Perhaps display triangle-shaped picture frames on its surface.
Incorporate Diverse Materials
Reclaimed wood is one of the best ways to class up your coffee table. This popular product features saw marks or a rough-cut texture that helps protect the environment by reusing pre-loved wood instead of cutting down trees for lumber.
You can use everything from metal to paint and fabric, which is part of what makes decorating your coffee table so much fun. Wool, burlap, felt, leather, and velvet can all add textural diversity to your living room.
Metal has also become an unexpectedly popular medium for home decor accents. Brass, copper, and wrought iron accents can appear highly decorative. The best metal work has been hand-shaped by an artist, but department stores can also supply exciting and beautiful pieces.
Mix Vintage with Modern
Mixing old and new styles can give your living room an eclectic look. Consider combining antiques and family heirlooms with modern items. There are lots of stylish ways to do this without anything feeling too out of place.
You can procure these decorative items from vintage stores, artisans, or select department stores as part of their shabby chic furniture collection. You might even find a local nonprofit that sells these vintage pieces, letting you do good while purchasing beautiful items.
Include Plants in Your Decor
Plants are a great way to dress up the coffee table. Many houseplants require very little care. Often, you can spritz the plants with water about once per week. Make sure they get a rotation in the sun, and occasionally check for any pest damage. For even easier care, select a closed terrarium for your coffee table. When constructed properly, these self-contained ecosystems can thrive for many years.
Succulents also make beautiful, natural additions to any coffee table scene. Aloe vera, snake plants, and jade plants are all easy-to-grow options for beginners. For an indoor garden that lasts all year round, try planting succulents in old window frames you’ve turned into planters. Layer these designs with pinecones or branches from outside to give them an extra rustic touch.
If you’re looking for something more traditional, place pottery pieces alongside each other on the surface of your table. Arrange them according to size so that everything balances nicely against each other without being too cluttered. Fill any empty spaces by adding a few small stones or tiny candles nearby.
If you love greenery, add matching plants to your living room‘s bookshelves, mantelpieces, or other flat surfaces.
Add Color with Books
Find colorful vintage books at secondhand shops and stack them neatly by color on your coffee table. Avoid using brightly colored books, though, as they may overwhelm a neutral table.
Oversized coffee table books can offer an engaging read for your guests but also tend to overwhelm the furniture. Instead, you may want to use traditional books on your coffee table and find a more creative way to make your extra-large books available, perhaps on side tables or bookcases.
Another option is to pick up some stylish storage boxes and stack them in an alternating pattern. Add some art, such as a map print or family photo collage frame, on top of your vintage books for added color.
Go Boho with Beads and Bowls
Place several bowls of turquoise, hot pink, and seafoam green beads on your coffee table. Mix different sizes and shapes for a unique look.
To take it up a notch, cut scraps of fabric into rectangles, then loop them around the sides of the plates or glasses you’ve placed on your coffee table. You can also set off your bowls of beads with boho textiles such as hand-knotted macrame centerpieces or runners made from ecru cotton twine.
The Bohemian style works particularly well in small spaces, and many of its styling ideas can match nearly any living room decor.
Maximize the Beauty of Fresh Flowers
Fold an old white cotton sheet into squares, tuck one in each corner of the coffee table, and top it with flowers from your garden—an array of tulips, jonquils, violets, or irises, for example. Give it a rustic touch by enhancing your display with pinecones or sprigs of fresh herbs. Place a bowl filled with water and lemon slices in the center of the tables for fragrance and extra style points.
You can always decorate with cut flowers in traditional vases if you prefer. This popular, classic option perks up any living space, no matter your color palette. If you want something more modern, consider using ornamental grasses or air plants instead of colorful flowers. Some of the most intriguing coffee table arrangements blend wood, metal, textiles, rocks, and plants.
Explore Your Options with Candles
There’s no better way to make your space cozy than with candles. They’re perfect for setting the mood, lighting the living room, and making an evening feel extra special. There are many ways you can decorate with candles on your coffee table, some fancier than others.
You can sink a small tea candle into a glass jar full of coffee beans or wrap the candle holder in ribbons, lace, or burlap. Candle holders come in tall, medium, and small sizes, and you can order just about any of them from Amazon. If you are an avid DIYer, consider shopping at your local antique market or thrift store for candlesticks you can refurbish.
Showcase the Season
Based on the season, you can create different themes with the items you have throughout the year. For example, you could use leaves and pinecones in autumn. Place them around pumpkins for a Halloween or Thanksgiving theme.
In winter, you could put candles, snowmen, and gingerbread cookies on your coffee table. You can even try using summer-themed items such as sand dollars or beach glass throughout all seasons.
Break Out the Bonsai and Bamboo
For more than 1,000 years, gardeners have grown miniature trees as decorative objects. By wiring the branches and pruning the roots, bonsai growers create replicas of large trees on a tiny scale.
Bonsai trees are functional and decorative, so they’re the perfect way to spruce up your coffee table. Ficus, Chinese elms, and junipers are generally easy for bonsai beginners to grow. Once you’ve planted your tree in a decorative pot, place it in the center of your table as a focal point. Then, add three or four delicate items, such as small figurines or pebbles, to balance the look.
Bamboo is another great option for coffee table decor. Fill baskets with soil, plant the bamboo, and arrange them next to each other on the tabletop’s surface.
Restyling your coffee table makes it easy to refresh your living room without a complete makeover. Coffee tables are so versatile that you can do almost anything with them. Small living room ideas include miniature beads, bonsai trees, and small frames. You can use large floral bouquets and candles for a larger space.
Your coffee table should tell your story, so whatever ideas you choose, make sure your space is as unique as you are.